If you’re thinking about getting into mountain biking but got a little sticker shock after seeing some of the prices of bikes then you may find yourself wondering if a mountain bike is a good investment. Like any hobby, there are costs associated with getting started, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthwhile!
Mountain biking requires a larger initial investment to get started compared to other fitness-based hobbies such as running. However, there are affordable options available that still offer good quality and will provide an excellent return on your investment.
While the bike alone is the largest cost of getting started in mountain biking, it’s not the only thing that you should consider. Keep reading to learn about what other costs that you can expect, as well as ways to keep them down!
The Cost of Mountain Biking
Mountain biking has become one of the leading outdoor activities worldwide. Off road cycling gives you the ability to commune with nature while offering technical challenges inherent with the sport.
But just like any sport, there are costs involved. Not only will you be purchasing the bike, but you also need the following items, at a minimum:
- Cycling apparel
- Water bottle
- Tire repair kit
- Mountain biking shoes (full article here)
- Bike rack if you own a car instead of a truck
Of course, none of this takes into consideration the inevitable investment of upgrading your bike later on. Items like derailleurs, brakes, and tires can all be switched out to give your bike a better overall performance.
So with all of that said, are mountain bikes a good investment?
When you consider the fitness benefits alone, then yes!
But it goes much deeper than that.
Most of us who ride regularly really consider it more of a way of life than just a side activity. There is a sense of community among mountain bike enthusiasts. We get together regularly, not only on the trail but online and in person.
I enjoy the solitude of being on a desert trail stretching for several miles. But that doesn’t mean I will turn down the opportunity for a challenging group mountain ride—each to their own.
The fact that you also get to spend time outside getting some fresh air and sun can do wonders. Virtually all of us spend too much time indoors as is, so why not find a great way to get your exercise outside while also having a blast!
What brand of mountain bike is appropriate for a beginner?
To answer that question, you first have to look at what’s currently available on the market. Here are a few examples, from the lower-end bikes to the high-end professional models:
Bikes under $1,000
What you may be saying to yourself right now is, “It better be under $1,000!” But it’s just like everything else. You get what you pay for.
Still, you can find a few bargains in the world of off-road cycling if you look close enough.
Take the Giant Talon 29 2, for example. At $750 retail, it has features similar to bikes costing much more:
- Sturdy aluminum frame
- Shimano derailleurs, something not usually found with lower-end bikes
- Decent quality tires
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- 29″ wheels
Not too bad for a so-called low-end bike!
So now you have a taste of mountain biking and are hooked. You’ve put in several hundred hours on your lower-end economy bike, and you now feel it’s time for an upgrade. Where do you go next?
An excellent place to start would be the Procaliber 9.6 from Trek. At around $2700, it features a durable carbon fiber frame, usually reserved for bikes costing over $3,000.
The Procaliber 9.6 has everything you would expect from a quality mountain XC :
- Upgraded Shimano drivetrain
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Tubeless 29″ Bontrager Kovee Comp 23 wheels
Sure it’s a big jump going from $750 to $2,000, but it is well worth it. A good quality, mid-range bike will give you enjoyment for many years to come.
Bikes over $5,000
Yes, they do exist. Keep in mind, though; at this level, you can spend thousands more on a bike and only get a slight increase in overall performance. Still, it could mean the difference in keeping or losing your high-paying sponsor if you are a professional rider.
Here are just a few examples to drool over!
Though it isn’t very pretty to look at, the Budnitz FTB is an incredible specimen of mountain bike engineering. The $7800 price tag is worth every penny if it’s within your budget.
What probably makes it so expensive is the titanium frame, which is lightweight yet more durable than carbon fiber. Other features, such as the precision drivetrain and specialty tires, keep this bike well out of reach for the average rider.
Other examples include the very pricey Yeti Eagle Turq and the BMC Teamelite, both retailing for over $10,000 each. Yes, the drivetrains, forks, wheels, and tires are the best you can buy. Yes, they are precision-crafted, highly complex machines.
Are they something the casual weekend rider has to have? No, probably not. But it is also nice to dream just a little.
My Recommendation For Getting Started
If you are brand new to cycling, the best thing to do is determine whether you are a weekend rider or are fully committed to the sport.
In either case, it may be a good idea to try it out first. There are a couple of ways you can do this:
1. Borrow a bike
You probably won’t get an experienced cyclist to let you ride their primary bike. After all, that would be like loaning out their toothbrush to you, yuck! Instead, find someone willing to let you have the old clunker they’ve been meaning to sell so that you can try it out for a while.
Golfers do this all the time since the sport of golf is so expensive. They rent a set of clubs from the pro shop for the first few times before buying their own set. This way, they don’t have to plunk down hundreds of dollars if they don’t choose to play anymore.
The same principle applies here. You want to make sure you will enjoy riding before you invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars on an expensive mountain bike.
Some local bike shops even let you try before you buy. This program usually pertains to road bikes, and it can involve a very hefty deposit. Still, it may be worth checking your local retailers to see what’s available to you in your area.
2. Buy Used
I know some riders who are so cheap that all they want to do is buy used bikes. They wind up having to put a lot of extra money into them just so that they can save a few measly bucks.
While I don’t advocate going through such labor-intensive drudgery, I would recommend the new rider consider going used for their first bike.
The idea here is that if you have to quit riding for any reason, you are only out a few hundred bucks instead of thousands.
Of course, you have to be smart when you buy used!
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Make sure the darn thing isn’t stolen!
You and I are both nice people. We take care of our own business, pay our fair share in taxes, and mostly stay out of trouble.
Need I remind you, some are not so nice. They will rob you blind any chance they get. And for some reason, you will find more than your fair share of crooks trying to peddle stolen bicycles. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because bikes are easy to steal.
Buy from a person at a residence, not a public place, or standing on a street corner.
Also, most bikes have a little bar code tag on the underside of the frame. This is the frame number that identifies every bike on the market. Grab your phone and get on bikeregister.com to do a fee check to see if the bike was stolen. If it was, you know what to do next…
Run, don’t walk!
2. Make sure the bike fits you
Ask the owner if you can at least ride it up and down the street. At the very least, sit on the bike to make sure it will be an approximate fit for you. Be sure to bring your personal saddle, just in case the current owner already took theirs off.
3. Check for obvious damage
Make sure there are no cracks at the weld joints. Check for massive gunk buildup at the derailleurs, a sure sign of overall neglect. Spin the tires to check for excessive wobble.
Most of all, be realistic. This is, after all, a used bike. With a little tender loving care, you may be able to restore it back to new!